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Home » News » Walmart and Hyatt Workers Unite to Demand Justice from Greg & Carrie Penner

Workers and community hold “Gala for the 99%” at site of Walmart & Hyatt Board members’ high-society fundraiser

April 19, 2012

Today, Bay Area Walmart and Hyatt workers will come together to demand that Greg and Carrie Penner address the injustice and abuse they face in the workplace.   The Penners are members of the Walton family – the richest family in the US and owners of Walmart.  Greg Penner sits on the Boards of Directors of both Walmart and Hyatt Hotels.  Walmart and Hyatt workers, joined by community members, will hold a “Gala for the 99%” at the site of the California Academy of Science’s “Big Bang Gala” in Golden Gate Park, which is co-hosted by Carrie Penner.  The protest, which will begin at 5:00pm in Golden Gate Park, is part of a nationwide 99% Power Campaign to hold corporate America, the 1%, accountable to the rest of us in the 99%.

Thursday’s protest comes at a time of national outrage over the corporate 1% that is wreaking havoc on our economy.  Greg and Carrie Penner are the face of the 1% in California.  The Walton family’s immense wealth – 6 members of the family have more wealth than the bottom 35% of Americans combined – was built on the backs of Walmart workers.  While the Waltons expect to receive $2.7 billion this year in Walmart dividends alone, Walmart workers make an average of just $8.81/hour.  Walmart’s full-time of 34 hours/week means a full-time associate earns just $15,500/year.  Walmart Associates’ work environment is often hostile, and Associates who have tried to utilize Walmart’s Open Door have found that their issues are not resolved and confidentiality is not respected.

Enrique Bognot, a Walmart Associate from Milpitas, CA, says of Thursday’s action: “If I had the opportunity to speak with Greg Penner, I would tell him to listen to Associates of OURWalmart and fix the Open Door Policy because it is unfair.  It is important for Associates to speak up!”

Greg Penner received a seat on the board of Hyatt Hotels Corporation when the Walton family invested $1 Billion in Hyatt in 2007.  Hyatt has distinguished itself as the most abusive employer in the hotel industry.  Hyatt’s use of subcontracting allows it to pay housekeepers poverty wages while evading legal liability for unsafe working conditions.  Hyatt housekeepers face high injury rates, and at some Hyatts, housekeepers have to clean as many as 30 rooms a day, nearly double what is typically required at union hotels.  In response, Hyatt workers have taken bold steps to end mistreatment, speaking publicly about abuses, going on strike, and even launching a national boycott of Hyatt.

“It’s not surprising to me that someone from the Walmart family also sits on the Board of Hyatt,” says Martha Reyes, a former housekeeper at the Hyatt Santa Clara.  “Hyatt is the Walmart of hotel companies in the way it treats us workers.” Reyes is one of two sisters and long-time employees who were fired by Hyatt after an objection to the posting of demeaning pictures of housekeepers in bikinis on a company bulletin board.

The Penner action is one of the first of a nationwide effort called 99% Power which will be protesting outside shareholder meetings across the country to demand accountability from corporate America.  Thousands of members of the 99% Power coalition of workers and retirees, families fighting foreclosure and the unemployed, students, immigrants, and environmentalists will participate in actions throughout this spring and summer– including actions targeting Wells Fargo just days later.  Demonstrators will directly face and challenge the 1% board members and executives that have only served to expand inequality, threaten democracy, destroy our environment and have put their desire for profit in direct conflict with the survival of families and communities.


For more information on OUR Walmart, see  For more information on the Hyatt campaign, see  For more information on 99% Power, see

Press contact: Julia Wong, , or Ben Waxman, ,

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